Natural Heritage

There are many different species and habitats within County Sligo, which because of their importance at European and National level, require the designation of areas for their conservation.  Almost 20% of Co. Sligo is designated for nature conservation and there is an exceptional variety of habitat types to be found within our county.  But what are the main types of site designation and why are sites identified for protection?

The three main types of designation are, Natural Heritage Area (NHA), Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA).  Natural Heritage Areas, are the primary National designation, and under the Wildlife Amendment Act (2000), NHA's will be legally protected from damage from the date they are formally notified.  In the interim, County Development Plans are the primary protection mechanism for NHA's.  Over the next few years, we will also see for the first time, geological sites being designated as NHA's.  Sligo has 20 NHA's, such as Ballygawley Lough, Lough Dargan and the Moylough Turlough.

Proposed Natural Heritage Areas in Sligo
Site CodeSite NameWebsite
618 Ardboline and Horse Island, Yellow Strand and Ballintemple
620 Aughris Head
1909 Ballygawley Lough
1657 Cloongoonagh Lough
1658 Colgagh Lough
1902 Corhownagh Lough
1664 Dunneill River
1665 Easky River
1905 Feenagh and Bunnamuck Loughs
1907 Fin and Riskeen Loughs
628 Glencar Cliffs
1908 Greenan Fen
630 Inishmurray
1904 Knockmullin Fen
1670 Knocknarea Mountain and Glen
1906 Lough Dargan
587 Lough Gara
1900 Meharth Lough
1677 Moylough Turlough
1901 Quarryfield West Turlough

Some NHA's are also designated as Special Areas of Conservation (SAC's) or as Special Protection Areas (SPA's).  SAC's represent the prime wildlife areas in Ireland, that are also considered extremely important from a European perspective.  Their selection and designation occurs through the EU Habitats Directive (92.43/EEC), which lists certain habitats and species for which Ireland must designate SAC's for their protection.  There are currently 18 SAC's designated in Co. Sligo, such as Ballisodare Bay, the Unshin River and the Benbulben, Gleniff and Glenade Complex.

Site CodeSite Name
622 Ballysadare Bay
623 BenBulben, Gleniff and Glenade Complex
1656 Bricklieve Mountain and Keishcorran
625 Bunduff Lough and Machair/Trawalua/Mullaghmore
497 Flughany Bog
458 Killala Bay/ Moy Estuary
1669 Knockalongy and Knockachree Cliffs
1673 Lough Arrow
1676 Lough Gill
633 Lough Hoe Bog
634 Lough Nabrickeagh Bog
2006 Ox Mountains Bogs
627 Cummeen Strand/Drumcliff Bay (Sligo Bay)
1680 Streedagh Point Dunes
636 Templehouse and Cloonacleigha Loughs
637 Turloughmore (Sligo)
638 Union Wood
1898 Unshin River

Special Protection Areas in Sligo

Special Protection Areas (SPA's), are sites that are important to birds and the EU Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) is the primary mechanism for their designation.  The Directive provides for listed rare and vulnerable species like the Whooper Swan, Peregrine Falcon and Corncrake.  It also provides for regularly occurring migratory species such as geese and waders as well as, wetlands of international importance for migratory birds.  Lough Arrow and Killala Bay/Moy Estuary are two of the eight SPA's designated in Co. Sligo.  While designated sites are important and need protection, the nature conservation of the wider countryside is just as important, woodlands, ancient hedgerows, lakes and fens all contribute to the rich diversity of species and habitats within our county. 

Site CodeSite NameSite Area
4129 Ballysadare Bay  
4035 Cummeen Strand  
4135 Ardboline and Horse Island       148
4133 Aughris Head 55
  Drumcliff Bay 1575
  Inishmurray 260
  Lough Arrow 1266
  Lough Gara 1742

Dúchas, The Heritage Service, (National Parks and Wildlife Section) have responsibility for the protection of designated sites and your local conservation ranger can be contacted through the Regional Office at Glenveagh National Park, Telephone: 074 37088.